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Government to recruit Country’s Top Science Students Print E-mail
( 2 Votes )
Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 11 October 2012 00:00

Students at ICT Road ShowIn the 2012 Global Competitiveness Index Report Belize is ranked 123 out of 142 countries in terms of competitive economies of the world. In this region, only Haiti is ranked lower. Dr. Colin Young, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Energy, Science & Technology and Public Utilities, said that one of the factors contributing to the low rating is our inability to innovate. “Innovation is key to our national development,” said Young. He continued, “As a country we are primarily users of technology. We have very few of our people inventing and we know that our people are as bright as anybody else.” Young said the Ministry is well aware that “we need to provide the environment through which our people can innovate.”

That will be done by steering talented Belizean youths towards careers in technological fields. The ministry will work with secondary schools to identify youths who are excelling in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Young said, “Our goal is to provide an enabling environment to increase the number of students pursuing careers in this area.” He expressed his belief in Dr. Cardinal Warde’s statement: “There is no reason the next Google can’t be started in Belize.” Warde is the founder of the Caribbean Science Foundation. The foundation is championing the cause for promoting innovative thinking at a regional level. Belize will use Warde’s SPISE program in the interim as an initiative to provide developmental opportunities for talented students. The annual Student Program for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE) is an intensive four-week enrichment residential summer program for promising Caribbean high-school students, who are interested in studying and exploring careers in science and engineering.  To qualify for the 2013 SPISE, students must have completed CXC exams in STEM subjects and be less than age 18 on July 1, 2013. The goal is to help address the low numbers of Caribbean students pursuing advanced degrees in science and engineering.

The long term goal is to establish a Center of Excellence in Science and Technology right here in Belize. Young said, “The center will provide incubation support and guidance to tap into the potential of our young people where they can come up with ideas and get the support to nurture those ideas and commercialize them.” Such a center is a few years away. Young said the Ministry will have to initiate discussions with several agencies; including the Ministry of Education, before a plan can be outlined. Until then, the short-term plan is to provide technical and financial resources to centers like the Institute for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (ITVET) to maximize the potential of youths already in the technical field and to work with tertiary level institutions to develop energy focused curriculums in order to develop promising prospects. Young said of students interested and those already in technical fields, “We pledge our support to help them succeed.”